Japan Trade Gap Narrows as Imports Slump

Japan's trade deficit narrowed to JPY 136.3 billion in August 2019 from JPY 448.1 billion in the same month a year earlier and compared to market expectations of a JPY 356 billion gap. Exports declined 8.2 percent, the ninth straight month of decline, while imports plunged 12 percent, as trade policy uncertainty continues to drag activity.

Exports fell 8.2 percent from a year earlier to JPY 6.14 trillion in August, compared to market forecasts of a 10.9 percent decline and July's 1.5 percent decrease. It was the ninth straight month of declines in shipments, amid weakening global demand and the US-China trade dispute. Lower sales were recorded in transport equipment (-8.2 percent), mainly due to motor vehicles (-7.2 percent), parts of motor vehicles (-13.6 percent) and motorcycles & autocycles (-32 percent); and machinery (-12.3 percent) namely semiconductor machinery (-24.5 percent),  power generating machines (-12.7 percent), computers and untis (-4.8 percent) and parts of computer (-9.5 percent); electrical machinery (-8.1 percent), in particular semiconductors (-2.7 percent), electrical apparatus (-14.5 percent) and measuring (-12.4 percent), batteries & accumulators (-15.3 percent) and electrical power machinery (-3.3 percent). Also, sales dropped for manufactured goods (-11 percent), of which iron & steel products (-13.6 percent), nonferrous metals (-10 percent), manufactures of metals (-8.5 percent), rubber (-8.6 percent), non-metallic mineral ware (-10.9 percent) and paper (-17.3 percent); and chemicals (-5.1 percent) mostly plastic materials (-6 percent) and organic chemicals (-6.9 percent). 

Among main trade partners, exports went down to China (-12.1 percent), the US (-4.4 percent), the EU (-1.3 percent), South Korea (-9.4 percent), Taiwan (-8.5 percent), Hong Kong (-11.5 percent), Singapore (-19.4 percent), Thailand (-3.6 percent), and Australia (-18.5 percent), but rose to the Middle East (0.7 percent).

Imports slumped 12 percent to JPY 6.28 trillion, compared to expectations of a 11.2 percent fall and the previous month's 1.2 percent decline. Purchases of mineral fuels dropped 25.3 percent, in particular petroleum (-25 percent), petroleum products (-28.8 percent), LNG (-23.3 percent), LPG (-32 percent) and coal (-24.5 percent). In addition, imports went down for electrical machinery (-8.9 percent), namely semiconductors (-12.5 percent) and telephony & telegraphy (-19.4 percent); machinery (-14.8 percent), of which power generating machines (-27.4 percent) and parts of computer (-0.8 percent); and foodstuff (-5 percent), namely fish & fish preparations (-14.5 percent), meat (-1.5 percent), cereals (-6.2 percent), vegetables (-6.8 percent) and fruits (-4.4 percent). Also, purchased declined for manufactured goods (-10 percent), mainly nonferrous metals (-21.5 percent), iron & steel products (-5.3 percent), metals (-4.6 percent), textile yarn & fabrics (-9.4 percent) and non-metallic mineral ware (-10.5 percent); chemicals (-4.2 percent), due to organic (-14.4 percent); transport equipment (-1.7 percent); and raw materials (-10 percent).

Imports dropped from China (-8.5 percent), South Korea (-10.3 percent), Taiwan (-6.8 percent), the US (-9.2 percent),  the EU (-2.3 percent), and the Middle East (-29.8 percent).

Japan Trade Gap Narrows as Imports Slump

Ministry of Finance, Japan | Stefanie Moya | stefanie.moya@tradingeconomics.com
9/18/2019 9:24:38 AM